Russell may have been wrong

Given the slow and painful journey of middle-aged twice-bitten love, I was a bit disconcerted to read today’s quotable quote in the NT News. It was by Bertrand Russell, and said:

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.

I personally prefer another quote from the great man, which adorns the masthead of the Bertrand Russell Society website:

“The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.”

But neither really captures the spirit as far as I’m concerned. Fortunately, this afternoon I received an email from blogger Francis Xavier Holden, who drew my attention to the website of a poet friend of his who goes by the nom de plume Frank Faust. Of the many poems on his site, I was taken with this one:

Movements
#1
it should not cause surprise
that there are terrors
in the pre-dawn morning
at the coldest of hours
before darkness edges into light

#2

the answer to your question
lies in the paradox
of a driving need
for distance and separation
operating in tandem
with the fear of dying alone

#3

sometimes it seems
that there is a very fine line to walk
between mutual pleasures
and subtle exploitation

#4

there is no real basis
for believing that
the co-location
of a toothbrush in the rack
holds significance beyond
courtesy and convenience

#5

many things are done
in the name of love
these are however largely false
it is probably the case that
more importance should attach
to those acts which suggest endurance

#6

it may not take long
on occasion merely a day or two
other times perhaps weeks
but do not doubt
that it will come
and negotiation will not
be of great assistance

#7

it is useful on occasion
to consider implications
and their consequences
before rushing to assume
a vulnerable position

#8

you may wish to reconsider
based on your own assessment
of the capacity you hold
to cope with misadventure

#9

with the passing of time
there sometimes emerges
a level of equilibrium
from within which it is possible
to see things clearly
and with an acceptable sense
of perspective

~

We’re quite a bit beyond that point now, I think. Frank Faust’s many love poems (of which the one above is quite early in the sequence) depict a growth and deepening of love too, but then decay and loss. So maybe Russell had a point. I’m an eternal cautious optimist though, and I can’t be what I’m not. Nevertheless, these poems speak to me more truly than Bertrand Russell’s glib quote.

PS – While I’m on a late Friday arvo whimsicality kick, be sure to read this post by Christopher Sheil. And ask yourself the question: Are you (or is Chris) a cretan, fool, moron or lunatic?

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Link (the loon)
2022 years ago

I like this:
“it is useful on occasion
to consider implications
and their consequences
before rushing to assume
a vulnerable position ”

Chris would have all bloggers as loons, but some us are definitely loonier than the others!

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

Siggie Freud arrived in USA – famous.

As he stepped off plane.

USA reporter asks: “What is the secret of happiness Mr Freud” (side note – another nationality might have asked “secret of life”).

Freud replied: “To Work and to Love”

Reporter: “Mr Freud, but tell us, which part is the most important?”

Freud: “The and”

Peter Ransen
Peter Ransen
2022 years ago

All fabulous stuff.

Russell
Russell
2022 years ago

I can’t wait ’til this post scrolls off the top of your page. While I am often wrng, the headline is depressing for some reason.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

– a love poem to take seriously. Love is a very serious business and i think the key word in this one is endurance – romantic love and sweet fuck are there too – it’s not often the 2 ideas are together. funny that when a relationship is like in the movies it is fucked – when it is a calculating assessment of what consitutes a good life it works – falling madly in love is for those who have lots of time and space to spare – me? I’m busy.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

Russell we could keep it here indefinitely – the comment box mania is upon me – ‘wrng’ that’s how fonzie says it – remember in Happy Days when he had to admit he was wrong and tried really hard to apologise because Richie was his good mate?
– and he almost did it ‘wrng’.

Russell
Russell
2022 years ago

G’day jen,

While I would like to be able to say that my “wrng” was a conscious homage to the Fonz, it was nothing more than typing with a toddler on my lap.

At least a typo like that works better in a post where I am admitting I am often wrong than in one of those posts in which someone is claiming that nothing can go WRNG!